Biography

Gilles Leyers, a young organist who has formed a natural bond with Baroque music, was born in Luxembourg in 1979.

After graduating obtaining his Prix Supérieur with Highest Distinction ('grande distinction') from the Luxembourg-City Conservatoire and a Bachelor of Music from Conservatorium van Amsterdam (NL) he won the prestigious ECHO Young Organist of the Year award, which made him the first ever Luxembourg laureate of an international organ competition.

A dedicated and hard-working perfectionist, Gilles Leyers has never been afraid of rubbing shoulders with organ greats. He learned and perfected his skills and technique under Jacques van Oortmerssen, Jean Boyer, Pierre Nimax Jr., Harald Vogel, Gillian Weir and even tenor Howard Crook.

After stints as organ master at Saint Martin's Church in Dudelange (1912 Stahlhuth organ) and at Saint Michael's Church in Luxembourg-City (1971 Westenfelder organ), Leyers opted for a more flexible schedule, following the call of international concerts and festivals.

He accompanies a number of ensembles on a regular basis, including the Solistes Européens Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Vocal Ensemble, Cantica and Amis du Chant Luxembourg.

He has performed alongside Jean Guillou, Olivier Latry, Naji Hakim, Ben van Oosten, Daniel Roth, Pierre Pincemaille, Wolfgang Zerer, Loïc Mallié and Yves Castagnet at festivals including Bruxelles Ses Orgues (B), Città di Treviso e della Marca Trevigiana International Organ Festival (I), Fribourg International Organ Festival (CH), Dudelange International Organ Music Festival (L) and the Trier International Summer Organ Festival (D).

While Gilles Leyers has a strong preference for Baroque music (Johann Sebastian Bach, Dietrich Buxtehude, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Johann Ludwig Krebs) because of its authenticity and its capacity to convey emotions that are universal, and that therefore affect listeners in a primeval, fundamentally human way, he is interested in Romantic and contemporary works, too. The pictorial elements and fluidity of sound that define the compositions of the Romantic period and their power to draw an audience into a dream-like phantasy world hold great appeal for Leyers, as do the technical challenges that characterize the works of Romantic masters like Louis Vierne, Alexandre Guilmant, Felix Mendelssohn or Charles-Marie Widor. Gilles Leyers' favourite contemporary pieces are innovative and uncluttered yet melodious and balanced, with each note playing an essential role. The compositions of Marcel Dupré, Ad Wammes, Peter Planyavsky and Jos Kinzé are cases in point. Being a purist by nature, Gilles Leyers seeks to take account of the fact that each music period is characterized by a specific sound and strives for authenticity in his renditions. He therefore adapts his repertoire to the organ at his disposal whenever possible.

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